Seroprevalence of Anti-Borrelia Burgdorferi Antibodies in White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) from Texas
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Lyme Disease is caused by the bacterial pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi, and is transmitted by the tick-vector Ixodes scapularis. It is the most prevalent arthropod-borne disease in the United States. To determine the seroprevalence of B. burgdorferi antibodies in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from Texas, we analyzed serum samples (n=1493) collected during the 2001-2015 hunting seasons, using indirect ELISA. Samples with higher sero-reactivity (0.803 and above) than the negative control group (0.662) were further tested using a more specific standardized western immunoblot assay to rule out false positives. Using ELISA, 4.7% of the samples were sero-reactive against B. burgdorferi, and these originated in two eco-regions in Texas (Edwards Plateau and South Texas Plains). However, only 0.5% of the total samples were positive by standardized western immunoblot assay. Additionally, both ELISA and standardized western immunoblot assay results correlated with an increased incidence in human Lyme Disease cases reported in Texas. This is the first study to demonstrate a seroprevalence of anti-B. burgdorferi antibodies in Texas white-tailed deer. Future ecological and geographical studies are needed to assess the environmental factors governing the prevalence of Lyme Disease in non-endemic areas of the southern United States.
Adetunji, Shakirat Adeola (2016). Seroprevalence of Anti-Borrelia Burgdorferi Antibodies in White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) from Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from